January 04, 2024 2 min read
By Shane Robert
A drop set is an intensity technique designed to allow the lifter to complete more reps of a movement by extending the set with a slight decrease in weight. The purpose of this is to generate more muscle growth through metabolic byproducts and muscle damage. Drop sets are a type of “beyond failure” training. Due to this nature, one or at most two drop sets per exercise (or even per workout) are all that is needed.
There are many ways to perform a drop set. The classic protocol is to complete a set at your top weight close to failure, drop the load 20%, and immediately continue to do reps until failure, aiming to match or exceed the top set reps. The amount of decrease can vary from a few pounds to a significant amount, more than 40%. The greater the drop, the higher the amount of reps one should expect to complete on the drop set.
A further variation is to perform multiple drops in the set, using the same increment of decrease. Dropping twice is a double drop set, and dropping three times is a triple drop set. Anything more than three is almost certainly excessive or wading into the territory of a strip set, which is somewhat different in execution and serves a different purpose.
Here is an example using barbell curls:
80x7, trying to match the top set but hit failure
Frankly, it's questionable how much more effective these are over straight sets. Certainly, they cause more fatigue and muscle soreness and can be useful when time is limited and fewer sets can be performed. Whether they are superior or not, they can be fun to do and leave you with a ghastly pump.
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